…or dinner, if you’re just not a morning person.
Bears are found in many parts of the world. If you like the idea of having a really “up close and personal” experience with one, let’s look at how to do it.
Good Things to Have Around
Keep things like bird feeders, pet food, salt licks, bee hives, and dirty barbecue grills. Use lots of smelly things including items like perfumes and fragrant shampoos.
Oh, and citronella seems to bring in the bears sometimes.
Also, bears enjoy snacking on ant larvae and pupae. Ant colonies give off formic acid. So, things made with formic acid (Hot tub covers, bike seats, insulated snowmobile seats, and many other items) have been attractants.
Sneak up on the bears – they like being startled! Don’t sing or clap or talk loudly, keep your flashlight off while hiking at night, and make sure to walk quietly on the trail.
(Note: In case it’s not obvious, for your safety, you should not follow the advice in this article. Plus, remember, like many potentially dangerous situations I’ve written about, prevention is the easiest and most effective tool.)
In Bear Country, Keep a Really Messy, Smelly Camp or Home
Go ahead – live it up! Keep your food and trash lying around, especially near where you’re going to sleep. Don’t use canned or dried food. Leave containers open and out. Forget wasting money on Ziploc bags, and don’t even think about hoisting your food way up a tree.
Stay Below the Radar
Whenever you head out into nature, you’re probably trying to leave the shackles of civilization behind, right? Ditch the cell phone, and don’t tell people where you’re going or how long you expect to be.
That’s a great idea for anything outdoors, bear country or not.
Bring Your Unleashed Dog
Bears love dogs, especially unleashed ones. They react especially well to being surprised and harassed by them.
More Ways to Anger a Bear
Blow Off Advisories
Those wildlife professionals are simply trying to justify their salaries. Don’t worry about notices posted about bear precautions.
Included in those advisories is probably something about not feeding the bears. Eh, what’ll it hurt?
Get a Little Closer
If you see a bear from a distance, make sure to get closer. You’ll be certain to get the best camera shot from there. Even better, make sure to push your family closer to the bear so that they can be in the picture, too. What a memorable vacation shot this is going to be!
When a bear’s food sources are depleting, they have no interest in finding their nutrition elsewhere – like from you. Pay no attention to things like a bad year for wild berries or depleted wildlife.
It’s So Cute!
Really, they’re just like giant teddy bears. There’s no danger in approaching bears, chasing them away from a hunting kill, or simply hanging out with them.
Pay no mind to the fact that some bears can take 500-pound seals out of the water, hunt animals as large as moose, and have claws up to six inches long. Some grizzlies can bite through 6-inch-thick pine trees. Awesome.
Those Babies Are Cute, Too
What mama doesn’t want to show off her kids? Go on up to the little tykes. For extra fun, make sure to get between mama and babies.
Remember Your Priorities
If some bear shows up and wants your food, tent, or other items, fight him for it. You’re smarter, own more stuff, make more money, and aren’t going to be pushed around by a dumb forest creature.
In one of many examples, I know of a man in Alaska who was fishing when a bear approached and was interested only in the fish the man had caught. The man refused to back away from his creel, fought that bear, and lost. That won’t happen to you.
It’ll Never Catch You From Way Over There…
Sure it can. Let’s see how fast it gets here. (up to 40 mph)
If a bear approaches slowly, don’t try to back away slowly while keeping an eye on it. Run away just like the prey that bears are used to catching.
Trap The Bear
If you’re standing in the only way out of an area, the bear will feel trapped. This should be fun!
Bears never learn to check out a gunshot they heard because it often means a freshly killed free meal, especially in an area that’s hunted often.
Forget about gun safety – fire into the air to scare it. Stray bullets never travel a mile or more and hit unsuspecting hikers.
Also, if you are forced to use a firearm, make sure that it’s underpowered and take lots of shots from a distance. You can drop the bear or reload in time, I’m sure.
If you carry those big bear pepper spray canisters, fire off the blast as soon as you see a bear – preferably into the wind. Don’t worry about being close enough for the spray to work or hitting the bear in the face with it.
Don’t Do It
Again, DO NOT do any of the suggestions listed in this article.
It was written tongue-in-cheek in an effort to reach the many people who might blow off a regular list of “don’ts”. It’s also important to remember that there are different kinds of bears.
The advice given in this article is general. So, learn about the bears in your area.
There are black bear, brown, polar, giant panda, sun (a small and rare bear found in Southeast Asian rainforests), sloth bears on the Indian subcontinent, and the spectacled bears of South America.
Why learn? Bears can act differently. Also, situations can vary.
Some can climb trees, and others have trouble with it. Sometimes you stand still and tall when they charge, and other times you play dead while protecting your neck with your fingers or fight. Bears that are used to living around people can get very dangerous. Some can get used to the loud noises. Some have had previous encounters with people that affected them.
Talk to people in the area who know the bears, read a little, and take a few minutes to learn what’s best in your particular situation.
Most of all, remember that simple preventive measures are the best way not to get in trouble with bears. Try not to attract them or get them used to people, don’t intrude on their space or surprise them, and your odds improve greatly.
Even with a recent rise in North America (as well as Japan and, I’ve heard, Eastern Europe), there are only a few lethal bear attacks in all of North America every year.
In contrast, approximately 18,000 people are killed by other people in North America each year (approximately 17,000 in the U.S. and approximately 600 in Canada.)
So, maybe it’s safer in bear country than you thought if you just follow a few easy precautionary steps.
© Mark Dorr 2013, All Rights Reserved
References & Image Credits:
(3) Wikipedia: Bear Attack
(5) Statistics Canada
(7) ABC News
(8) ucumari via photopin cc
(9) wallyg via photopin cc
(10) trackrecord via Compfight cc